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Gordon Haskell

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

UAW Truman Stand a Disgrace

(4 October 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 40, 4 October 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


I am surprised to find no comment in Labor Action on the statement of policy of the United Automobile Workers Executive Board in endorsing Truman and Barkley for President and Vice-President which was issued to the press for release on September 13.

Some time ago this same executive board went on record for the formation of a labor party in 1949 on the ground that neither of the existing major parties represents the work ing people. At that time Labor Action hailed this statement of intentions, though criticizing certain weaknesses in it, and especially the fact that the UAW leadership is taking no action to organize such a party now.

It seems to me that in view of the position already taken by the Executive Board of the UAW, their wholehearted endorsement of Truman, following in the path of the national CIO leadership, requires the sharpest criticism and condemnation from socialists.

The endorsement is bad enough. The completely uncritical and downright misleading manner in which it is made by the UAW leadership must be openly condemned by all those who favor a labor party, and particularly by socialist partisans of such an independent political organization of labor.

At the very least, a leadership which is supposedly committed to a labor party could have made a statement to the effect that in view of the impossibility of organizing such a body for the 1948 elections (for which the leadership must take its share of responsibility), it has no alternative but to endorse Truman as the lesser of two evils. Although socialists can’t accept such a short-sighted policy, at least it would be understandable to many workers in the UAW who are very uneasy about voting for one strikebreaker against another.

But the UAW leadership does nothing of the kind. Its statement reads, in part, as follows: “The lines between people and privilege have been clearly defined. The CIO supports an administration and a Congress which will roll back prices, which will assure homes at prices people can pay, which will move forward to achieve the President’s proposals on civil liberties for all citizens and economic security for every family, and will continue to seek peace without appeasement among nations so that the freedom of all men everywhere may be achieved.”

More lies about a possible Democratic Party administration could hardly be condensed in so short a statement. The editor of Labor Action as well as every worker who has given two minutes’ thought to the political realities in America knows damned well that a Democratic administration would not accomplish any one of these promises any more than a Republican administration will. The UAW Executive Board is kidding no one except, perhaps, Phil Murray, for whose benefit this statement was probably written.

I am confident that this matter having been called to your attention, Labor Action will condemn in fitting manner the political misleadership which the UAW Executive Board is giving the workers in this election.


Comradely yours,
Gordon Haskell


We are entirely in agreement with Comrade Haskell and plead guilty to negligence in failing to make special mention of the UAW’s September 13 statement. We have written so often and at such length about the attitude of the labor leaders, including the UAW leaders, on the elections and political action, that we mistakenly passed by the September 13 statement as just another one of those things which we have, unfortunately, come to expect from the labor leadership. We have frequently commented on the special contradictions in the position of the UAW leaders. In our articles (cited by Comrade Haskell) which discussed, and welcomed the statement by Walter Reuther promising to devote his energies to the creation of a new party, we noted the fact that the statement was contradicted by Reuther’s possible endorsement of Truman and certain support of “good” capitalist congressmen. It is our intention to return to the subject repeatedly in future editorials and articles which will survey the position of the labor leaders, notably those who speak of independent political action in one breath and of supporting Truman in the next one. – Ed.

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